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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise
Ask Aunt Nettie

We're delighted to share our Aunt Nettie with you. She's agreed to answer any questions you might ask about food, its preparation, and even clean-up tips. But we have to prepare you. She just might want to come right over to your house and help you fix dinner.

To send any questions to Ask Aunt Nettie an/or get her cooking advice, .

Editor's Note: Instead of Aunt Nettie answering individual questions, she has decided to address a number of requests from people who want to save money on the food budget and still enjoy healthy dining. This is one of a series of money-saving tips and recipes designed to stretch those slim dollars.

As an example of Aunt Nettie's impressive, penny-pinching ability to save, she still has some depression glass dishes and bowls in the cupboard--they're the real thing and she still treasures them.

In future issues of Vegetarians in Paradise, Aunt Nettie and her niece Zel will offer more money-saving recipes for the most extreme skinflints along with suggestions to help bargain-hunter foodies seek out cheap fare that still brings good cheer to the table.


Forty-sixth in a series of articles


Howdy there darlin's,

Well, well, well, wouldn't ya know summer's come ta visit but with a hitch o' doubt in mind. One day is hot as the devil an' next there's a tad o' chill in the air. So I figured that on them days when summer's not sure it wants ta say howdy-there quite yet, we're still wantin' fer a little somethin' ta warm them bones in a healthy way.

'Cause I been so watchful with spendin' money all my life, I learnt mighty young how ta stretch the doller. Bein' careful simply got ta be a habit. These days is no different--I'm still penny pinchin' but ain't sufferin' none. There's jes no need ta pay big dollers ta cook up a pot o' something that's like ta stick ta the ribs and taste mighty fine, too.

Ain't nothin' like a nice big bowl o' soup that's thick, creamy, an full o' flavor ta make ya rub yer tummy with a smile o' happiness. 'Taters is almost always a good buy at the market and make up the bones of a good soup along with onions, celery, an'-- of course, some garlic.

Why, then jes add a nice big head o' cauliflower ta give that soup the best vitamin an' mineral goodness possible. Then, toss in some nice fresh mushrooms and add a pinch of salt an' pepper, along with the liquid smoke flavorin' an' you got one hellova good bowl o' supper.

An' don't ferget ta make it look purty with somethin' green like parsley an' avocado on top. Always remember that the eyes is the first ta "taste" the food.

Now, this deeeelicious soup is not jes fer spring or early summer weather--it's perfect good eats fer all year round. Write an' tell me how y'all like it--I'll be waitin' ta hear.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

Soup that relies on a base of potatoes provides truly wholesome enjoyment along with that stick-to-the ribs quality. Because there are only a few simple, familiar ingredients, you'll recognize this is a very un-fussy recipe that can be prepared with ease. It's not short on flavor, though. Credit goes to the liquid smoke and cayenne that add such a lively perk to this very tasty kettle. And as with so many soups, it's even better the next day.

Smoky Cauliflower & Potato Chowder


Yield: 5 to 6 servings

    1 large onion, chopped
    1 rib celery, chopped
    5 cloves garlic, chopped
    2 quarts (2 liters) plus 1/2 cup (120 ml) water, divided

    1 large cauliflower, about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds (.68 to .90k) chopped
    2 1/2 pounds (1.13k) russet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces

    6 ounces (170g) button or oyster mushrooms, thickly sliced

    1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice
    1 3/4 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon liquid smoke
    Pinch cayenne
    Freshly ground pepper to taste

    3 tablespoons minced parsley, for garnish
    1 avocado, cut into half-inch (1 cm) chunks, for garnish

  1. In a 10-quart (10 liter) stockpot, combine the onion, celery, garlic, and 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the water. Cook and stir over high heat for about 2 minutes, or until the onions are beginning to soften.
  2. Add the remaining water, cauliflower and potatoes and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer about 15 minutes, or until the cauliflower is soft.
  3. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup in the pot until creamy or transfer the soup in batches to the blender and process until creamy.
  4. Add the mushrooms and cook about 2 to 3 minutes, or until they are tender. Add the lemon juice, salt, liquid smoke, cayenne, and pepper and adjust seasonings, if needed.
  5. Spoon the soup into serving bowls and garnish with the parsley and chunks of avocado.

If You Haven't Met Aunt Nettie. . .

Our Aunt Nettie has a head like a hard disk. It's filled with gigabytes of information about food and cooking. And she's just itchin' to share her learnin' with city folk who live in mortal fear of the stovetop.

Aunt Nettie grew up on the farm. She did not eat out of a can or reach into the freezer. There was no microwave to pop her food into. Everything she made was from scratch. All the food she ate was natural, without pesticides. It was grown right there on the family farm, and she had to cook to survive. At eighty-three years young she still leaps and bounds around the kitchen and can shake, rattle, and roll those pots and pans with the best of them.

Nowadays, Aunt Nettie just shakes her head and complains, "Nobody cooks anymore. They have no idea about puttin' a meal together." She's on a mission. She wants to help those younguns eat better so they can grow up healthy like her own eight kids.

Click here for past Ask Aunt Nettie Columns

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